Conall’s Hockey Coaching Corner: Cutting off Hands

Hope you guys enjoyed my first installment of Conall’s Coaching Corner.  It is a lot of fun to share these terms and habits with you all.  These little nuances of the game are incredibly important to point out in order to help my players grow as hockey players. Today we are going to talk about “Cutting off Hands” a phrase that is used frequently on hockey benches around the world.

The term “Cutting off Hands” I think is fairly self explanatory.  The idea is to use your stick and come over the top of the other players stick, and low enough so you do not make stick contact with the opponents hands. Then stick your shoulder/backside into their mid section (think of Jagr defending a puck in the corner).  It is the ideal way to win a loose puck battle and obtain possession.

It drives me up the wall seeing a player going for a big hit with their stick in the air and hands high. This looks cool if you are a high schooler trying to impress your classmates, but does little beyond that.  If you are a coach teaching the game to players of all ages, you want to make sure they make proper contact and “cut off hands”.  These three clips are great examples of this in three different areas of the ice.

Clip 1

Here we have Rangers 2020 first round pick Braden Schneider.  Schneider goes back for a puck, makes proper contact to separate the man from the puck, cuts off his hands, and moves the puck up the ice. Side note: I’ve had this clip downloaded on my computer since since the draft.  I cannot for the life of me find the person who shared this video on Twitter.  If someone knows who it was I would love to give them proper credit.

Clip 2

A loose puck race.  You will see the Sabres player make an area pass to himself, initiate proper contact by cutting off the defenders hands, and creating separation by sticking his backside into the players mid section.  This allows for a slot line pass and a near goal. Again, cutting off the hands in hockey leads to better opportunities.

Clip 3

Tomas Hertl on the forecheck.  We all remember our friend Tomas “four goal” Hertl.  Here we see him be an ideal F1 on the forecheck. Hertl makes an area pass behind the the defenders.  He proceeds to initiate contact and cut off the defenders hands using both his stick and body position.  This eventually leads to a goal.

It is important to remember the purpose of a hit is to get the puck back.  When you go for a big hit, you more often than not take yourself out of the play too.  The best defense is to have the puck on your stick. So cut off those hands, stick that ass in their gut, and touch puck.  That is a hell of a lot more important than laying someone out.